This question had never really crossed my mind before. But I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. Does autism need a cure?
It started about four years ago during my dad’s charity event called Metal Jam which raises money for autism. People sign up to play some metal and there’s a raffle and prizes and all the money goes to…well…it used to go to Autism Speaks but after some research we realized we shouldn’t have been donating to them and my dad found another charity to donate the money to. In any case, it brings people together every year and raises thousands of dollars. And my dad brings my brother up on stage to play one of his favorite songs which is always a big tear jerker. Anyways, back in 2013, Derek Riggs (the man who created Iron Maiden’s mascot “Eddie The Head”) designed some shirts for us which were super cool. He had posted a picture of the shirt on his Facebook page and someone had commented basically saying, “Autism doesn’t need a cure. I’m autistic and I don’t need a cure.”
It was either Derek Riggs or his wife that responded very politely telling them that there should still be research, I’m not 100% sure what was said as I didn’t see the post. My mom saw it and told me about it.
But, I kinda forgot about that little event until today when I saw a clip of the debut of the first character with autism on Sesame Street, which was so amazing and so pure and so innocent. I have been waiting my entire life to see acceptance and representation for kids and adults like my brother. Well, my brother is much more severe than the character they introduced BUT autism is different for every person as far as severity goes. And regardless of what severity of autism they gave this character, I absolutely love how they explained it and how they handled it all.
All of a sudden, I see comments like the one that popped up on Derek Riggs’ post on Facebook four years ago. “Autism doesn’t need a cure! I’m autistic and I don’t need a cure!”
And it got me thinking. Are they right? Does autism not need a cure? Do you really want my answer? You might not like it. Because I do think it does.
I understand why people with high functioning autism would say it, I really do. I struggled so much when I was young seeing the looks on people’s faces when they saw my brother and saw how he behaved. It’s hard living with the judgement I get that, I truly do. But like I said, every person with autism is different when it comes to severity.
So, you don’t get the cure, that’s fine. But what about the kids like my brother? They do exist. My brother isn’t potty trained, he can’t speak, he’s self abusive, we’re currently struggling to find the right mixture of medications to give him in a very, very sad attempt to calm him down and make him less angry. My brother goes to an adult program with other men and women who are just like him. What about them? You don’t need a cure so they don’t need one either?
Yes, they need acceptance. Yes, they need compassion and understanding. But they also need a cure. If you don’t want it, that’s fine. You don’t have to take it if one ever came up. But if I had the chance to give my brother a better life, I’d do it in a heartbeat. His quality of life is so poor. He’ll never drive a car, have a career, fall in love, have children, nothing. If I had the opportunity to give him those things, I would. If that meant curing him, hell yeah I’d give that to him. And no one is allowed to tell me I’m ignorant for it.
So, there’s my answer. Yes, we need a cure for autism because not every autistic kid is high functioning. Some kids are severe like my brother and their quality of life will never be as good. Those kids need a cure, don’t they? A fighting chance? Hell, you might be in luck. I doubt we’ll see the cure for autism in our lifetime.
I don’t intend to offend anyone. I just think that it’s just not that simple. There are so many levels of severity and some kids are so severe that would it be fair to deprive them of a cure when it would certainly improve their quality of life?
What do you guys think?